Why the U.S. Needs Mine Permitting Reform
May 23, 2023
Nearly two decades ago, the U.S. attracted almost 20 percent of t...
“This is the factual story about America’s enormous mineral wealth sitting right under its citizens’ feet, and the tragic irony that it is also the largest importer of minerals in the industrial world.” These are some of the opening lines of Groundbreaking! America’s New Quest for Mineral Independence, an important new book by Ned Mamula, an adjunct scholar in geosciences at the Center for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute, and Silicon Valley author Ann Bridges, which digs into the decades-long erosion of U.S. mining and the glaring need to reverse this self-imposed economic and national security vulnerability.
Groundbreaking! comes at a critical moment in the debate about U.S. dependence on minerals imports and the future of domestic mining. In a recent hearing, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, lamented that the U.S. is headed in the wrong direction on mineral imports. Speaking to our alarming reliance on imports, she said, “This is our Achilles’ heel that serves to empower and enrich other nations, while costing us jobs and international competitiveness.”
As Mamula and Bridges explain, U.S. dependence on mineral imports has doubled over the past twenty years. Despite being home to minerals reserves estimated at $6.2 trillion, the U.S. is wholly import dependent for many of the minerals and metals required for its defense, technology, renewable energy and manufacturing sectors. A troubling number of these materials come entirely from China, Russia or mines controlled by these nations.
As advanced technology becomes more materials intensive and U.S. policy roadblocks continue to hamper mining investment, this startling import reliance is only set to grow.
According to Mamula and Bridges, this isn’t a vulnerability to be taken lightly. The U.S. has put its economic and national security at serious risk and made itself beholden to countries and governments that aren’t just competitors but, in many cases, geopolitical rivals.
Groundbreaking! doesn’t just expose the challenge, it also offers a path forward to disrupt the status quo and return the U.S. to mineral independence.
“Mamula and Bridges have woven together myriad threads to give us the startling implications of our failed minerals policies,” said Hal Quinn, president and CEO of the National Mining Association (NMA). “This book is a wake-up call.”
Learn more about Groundbreaking! here.